A grieving daughter has praised the care of St Catherine’s Hospice whose support enabled her to fulfill her mum’s wish to die at home.
Julie Smith’s mum Eileen McCann died at home in January, after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in November 2019.
Julie, from Bamber Bridge, said: “Right from being diagnosed my mum said to me, I don’t want to die in hospital – I want to be at home, in my own bed.
“If it had not been for the support I got from St Catherine’s then I wouldn’t have been able to achieve that for her. Today I would be living with that – knowing I’d gone against her wishes.
“My mum was a very strong person, a very kind person, but she knew her own mind. The last thing I wanted to do was go against what she so clearly wanted. I am just so grateful to the hospice for helping me achieve what was important to her.”
Julie is sharing her experiences as part of the hospice’s new campaign encouraging people to sign up to give a monthly donation. It puts the spotlight on how St Catherine’s looks after the big issues and small details to make all the difference to local families facing conditions like cancer, heart failure and motor neurone disease.
Julie, who began giving a donation each month soon after her mum died, said: “I know how important having St Catherine’s here is and I want to do my little bit to help other families experience the same valuable support.”
Julie said the support from their community Clinical Nurse Specialist – the St Catherine’s palliative care nurses who visit people at home – was ‘amazing’.
“I remember times being on the phone to them in tears, and they were just so genuine and caring,” she said. “I can’t get across how much that support meant.
“I had a lot of questions too – if you’ve never been around someone who is dying, you don’t know what to expect. Tracy was so knowledgeable, so compassionate. She answered all my questions and helped me to feel more prepared.”
“Mum also spent some time on the in-patient unit at St Catherine’s,” Julie added.
“She was reluctant at first, but we are all so glad she went. They sorted out her medication, and helped her to eat a little again. Her stay gave us extra time together at home, which we’re so grateful for.
“After she died, I pretty much threw myself back into everything – but then ended up having a major wobble. Now I’ve been offered bereavement counselling to help. I didn’t even realise they did that.
“St Catherine’s are there for you all the way through – when someone is ill, at the end and then they’re still there for you afterwards.”
Melanie Holmes, community services manager at St Catherine’s, said: “We are so pleased our team could be there for Eileen and Julie when they needed us.
“We know that at the end of life hospital is often not the most suitable place for people to be, or where they would wish to spend their last days.
“Our community Clinical Nurse Specialist team is here to enable people to be at home if this is what they want – ensuring they are comfortable, that their relatives feel supported and empowered, and working with other health and social care professionals to co-ordinate any other support that is required.”
- As an independent charity, St Catherine’s can’t provide any of its services without fundraising and donations. Each year they have to raise £4.8m of their annual £5m running costs. To pledge a regular donation to the hospice, please click here.
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